23 foreigners among 166 killed in Leh cloudburst

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 19:00

Leh: Three French nationals, an Italian
and a Spaniard were among 23 foreigners killed in cloudburst
and flash floods that devastated Leh last Friday even as 73
injured people, including security personnel, were on Tuesday flown
out of the region by IAF for medical help.

The toll in the tragedy rose to 166 with 400 people
still missing, official sources said.
Three French citizens -- Augavelis Henri, Hellot
Jacques and Daniel Hauri, an Italian identified as Riccardo
Titton and Maromas Maria Lousdes from Spain have been declared
dead, they said.

16 of those killed are from Nepal, namely Nema Zangmo,
Tsering Neklal, Bakta Bahadur, Kama Lama, Ajay Raina, Khunchok
Gelak, Lakpa Gyalmo, Shekhar, Mahurdin Ansari, Manee Patel,
Ramesh Patel, Narai Badur Sume, Santosh Kumar, Nel Badur,
Saryanareyan Chaudhary and Anil Chaudhary, they said.

Two other victims were Tibetans. They were identified
as Pasang Tsering and Tsering Yangkyid, the sources said.

Meanwhile, 73 people, including 49 security personnel,
who were injured at different places following cloudburst,
were brought to Udhampur from Leh for treatment in an IL-76
transport aircraft this morning, Group Captain of IAF P M
Vithalkar said.

A special control room has been set up in the Ministry
of External Affairs to streamline the collation and
dissemination of information on foreigners affected by the
tragedy.

"Information about Indians and foreign nationals who
have sadly lost their lives, have been injured or are stranded
in different parts, is being collated by agencies involved in
rescue and relief effort," the Ministry said.

Even as a massive relief and rescue operation
continued, the state Revenue Department has begun a
painstaking exercise to gauge the extent of economic damage
suffered by the district.
"What we feel is that 40 per cent of our
infrastructure, which is irrigation canals, link roads and
bridges, have been destroyed. Another 40 per cent have been
partially damaged. May be 20 per cent is intact," Ladakh
Autonomous Hill Development Council chairman Chering Dorjay
told agency.

He said the cloudburst has severely affected
agriculture. "We now have a standing crop but all the
irrigation canals have been washed away especially the
headworks. In some places, the nallahs have become deeper by
as much as 20 feet," he said.

Even at a rough estimate, it will take a minimum of
two years for the disaster-hit district to be rebuilt and this
would involve thousands of tonnes of cement, steel, bitumen
and other construction materials, he said.

The Leh calamity figured in the Lok Sabha today with two
Congress members from Jammu and Kashmir requesting the Centre
to ensure all support in rehabilitation of the affected.

"Calamity has struck Ladakh. Thousands are still missing,"
Lal Singh said during Zero Hour. Noting that the Centre had
announced an ex-gratia relief of Rs one lakh to each of those
killed, he said it was not enough.

His party colleague from the state Madan Lal Sharma also
raised the issue, saying thousands of people have been left
homeless by the tragedy.

BJP leader L K Advani asked his party MPs to donate Rs
10,000 from their salary for providing relief to the victims
and suggested that the MPLAD funds be diverted for
rehabilitation and rebuilding of the region.

"In the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting today, Advani
suggested that all MPs should give Rs 10,000 from their salary
to Sangh Parivar`s Sewa Bharti which is active in providing
relief to the people affected by flash floods in Leh," Deputy
Leader of BJP in Rajya Sabha S S Ahluwalia said in New Delhi.

The money will be collected by the party and sent to
Sewa Bharti soon, he said.

"We will take up this issue through Lok Sabha Speaker and
Rajya Sabha Chairman in both Houses of Parliament for
diverting funds of members for Leh flash floods," Ahluwalia
said.

Several labourers from Chhattisgarh, who were working in
the region, are reported missing while seven were found dead
following the floods, the party said. Chhattisgarh Chief
Minister Raman Singh has promised all help to bring the
survivors back to their home state and provide relief to the
families of the dead.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, August 10, 2010 - 19:00

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